Comment: party revelation an unwelcome Christmas present


Prime minister Boris Johnson (Picture: PA)

Not the party itself of course, but the news of it happening at all. Because it should cripple any chance of the prime minister trying to completely 'stop' our Christmas in his next speech, even if he does deny it happened.

The rumours are rife that a 'Plan B' - more masks and working from home - will be imposed imminently, but this story has given people the ammunition to ignore it.

At least it isn't a 'full' lockdown - I have been stunned so many times in the past 20 months or so, but not even Johnson would have the front to impose that so soon following this fiasco, surely? 

There are still a few in the court of social media wondering why a party from a year ago is such big news. I put it to them that if they had found out about it in January they would not be so ambivalent.

My family has not lost anyone during this pandemic, and the magic of Zoom and Whatsapp has largely enabled us to keep in touch. 

But my daughter has missed out on her parents attending two sports days and nativity plays, and hasn't been to any school outings and excursions, fairs and fetes, and more. 

Not life-ruining in any way of course, but more memories gone that were never created.

As an aside, she also missed out on three hospital appointments. 

Since the summer we've been on our travels, and my impression of life in August, September and October was that the vast majority of people in the UK were cautiously starting to enjoy it again. 

Shops were busier, restaurants filling, people were looking forward to Christmas. I also - and maybe I'm naive - believed people were on the road to being less questioning of others.

And then Omicron (other Transformers are available) 'arrived', and we were all back on that spectrum of "sheep" or "selfish" again, based on our personal health choices regarding masks and vaccines.

However, mixed in with a fresh feeling of fear - and I really have experienced that first-hand in Peterborough in the past month - was for many a sense of "I'm not doing this again".

Not locking down my business. Not getting any more jabs. Not wearing a mask. We've done all that and where has it got us?

There are so many in the hospitality trade who are right on the brink at the moment, and are dreading the latest wave of cancellations and the ominous annual lull of January and February triggered by news of a new variant. Even our old pal furlough has been whispered a couple of times.

I have seen pleas on social media for support, and new justgiving campaigns across Peterborough. Events are being cancelled left, right and centre, and charities and good causes have been on their knees.

And last week's announcement that GPs would be allowed to suspend routine checks for over-75s and defer new patients to speed up booster roll-out was met with incredulity in many areas.  

So in a way that party last December could be the defining moment in the pandemic a year on - and perhaps one that heralds a more questioning, doubting tone to this whole pandemic situation.

I sense a shift in the tides. A combination of horror at quarantine videos and enforcement in Australia and Austria among other locations, alongside that feeling that life should somewhat return to normal, will only be amplified by the party news.

Our poll last week was completed by nearly 1,200 people, who overwhelmingly (69%) declared that lockdowns for the unvaccinated are not a good idea.

Back to the party. I'm sure that many people who were willing to suspend their lives one last time over the festive period will now say "no chance" after this news, no matter what happens.

Even after the Cummings and gropings of the government in the past, this one really does take the canapé for many.

Whether the participants just didn't care, or didn't think it would ever be revealed, or perhaps weren't really worried about Covid, or just thought that the serious illness it can bring "won't happen to them", they seemingly went ahead with it anyway.

It seems to be a running theme. And it's a story that won't run away yet.